Care Wear is a nationwide group of volunteers who provide handmade baby items to hospitals. Volunteers who knit, crochet, and sew are invited to join the effort.
Care Wear began in 1991 as a personal effort to provide much needed apparel for premature and low birthweight infants undergoing treatment in neonatal intensive care units of several children's hospitals in the Washington, D.C. area. Initial obstacles included the need to down-size patterns for infants as small as fifteen ounces and the task of contacting each hospital regarding sizes and quantities of garments needed. Because of the high demand for preemie-sized items, efforts began to recruit others to join the effort. As of December 2004, Care Wear had grown to more than 2400 active volunteers.
By December 1996, more than 28,000 hats-as well as large numbers of kimonos, booties, blankets, teddy bears, bibs, burial gowns, finger puppets, incubator covers, mittens, mattress covers, and cloth animals-had been submitted to me for distribution. As Care Wear grew, it became impossible for me to manage the distribution effort. Therefore, volunteers were urged to deliver completed items directly to hospitals in their community. Thus, there is no way to accurately estimate the actual number of garments delivered to hospitals across the country.
The Care Wear project has been covered by several area newspapers and television stations, and by the Associated Press Wire Service, the Hood College Alumnae Magazine, and nationally circulated magazines (Family Circle, Sew News, Threads, Family Circle Easy Knitting and Crafts 'n Things). In great part because of that publicity, Care Wear information has been sent to more than 12,500 prospective volunteers. Donations of yarn, fabric, cash, and supplies have been received from individuals, manufacturers, and retailers. Care Wear Volunteers, Inc. is a non-profit organization [501(c)(3)]. Donations to Care Wear are tax deductible. Care Wear appreciates receiving donated yarn, flannel, broadcloth, and other fabrics suitable for children's toys, apparel, and blankets/quilts. Donated supplies will be distributed to volunteers who request assistance.
At the present time, Care Wear is an information source for prospective volunteers. There are no membership rules, no dues, no quotas, or obligations. It is hoped that volunteers will contact local hospitals to learn what is needed. Or, send completed items to one of the hospitals on the Hospital List that is included in this Web page. Please review all of the sections of this Web page. You will find more specific information in the section entitled, "Join", and you will find patterns for knitting, crochet, and sewing all of the Care Wear items in the section entitled, "Patterns" .
Care Wear items are given FREE to infants, children, and their parents. The families usually keep the items as a memento, especially those for tiny preemies. Although the focus of Care Wear's efforts has been premature infants, it has been impossible to ignore the pleas for assistance for larger infants, children, and even geriatric patients. There is the most demand for the larger preemie and full-term sizes of hats and booties. Most hospitals welcome small (30" x30") blankets and quilts. Volunteers provide all of the supplies and may use left over yarn and fabric. Seasonal and holiday colors are popular-as well as pastels and multicolor stripes. See specific restrictions in the information in the "Join" section.